Between an excellent hold from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a handful of interesting newcomers, moviegoers turned out in massive audiences for the biggest Christmas weekend on record. In fact, this is actually the second highest grossing weekend ever (judged by the top 12 combined) and is only behind last weekend.
What a time to be alive.
In first place, obviously, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was down 38% to $153M. While that is obviously a steep drop for a Christmas release, it still made $153M in its second weekend, and that’s the important part here. Not to mention, with many on Christmas break over the last week, it grossed almost $150M from Monday to Thursday. After two weekends, it’s up to an astonishing $544.5M domestic, and over one billion worldwide. It’s likely going to crash after this week, but it can still likely gross over $700M domestically. With China still on the way, $2B worldwide is not out of the question.
In second place, Daddy’s Home was a big surprise with a fantastic $38M opening weekend. That’s pretty much double expectations, which goes to show that comedies are one of the most review-proof genres out there (likely only topped by supernatural horror). Originally, it seemed as though it may have a hard time finding an audience, as the trailers and ads seemed more family oriented, but it’s PG-13 rating would likely keep them away. That all went out the window, however, and the film ended up with a great opening weekend. Unless something incredibly strange happens, it’ll be able to top $100M domestically, and should likely make over $130M before the end of its run. This is a truly fantastic result, and will likely lead to more collaborations between the two actors, who found previous success in 2010’s The Other Guys. The fact that this Christmas release was able to top that films August weekend is a testament to their star power.
Joy opened to a solid $17.5M this weekend. This is the third collaboration between De Niro, Cooper, Lawrence and director David O. Russel, after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Both of those films were big hits, with Playbook grossing over $120M domestic on a $21M budget, and Hustle doing $150M with a $40M budget. Joy is the most expensive of the three, with a hefty $60M budget. Trailers were somewhat vague, and didn’t exactly give a great idea of what the story was about. With a simple google search, however, one could find out that the film is about the creator of the Miracle Mop, something that didn’t exactly sound thrilling. However, the marketing also did a good job selling it as a fun, sleek, and retro dramedy that always seems to find an audience. An opening like this should give it a domestic gross in the $80-$90M range, which is a fine result.
Sisters dropped just .3% (or you could just say it stayed the same if you don’t want to be annoying) to $13.8M. That brings its new total to a solid $37M, and it should be able to get another $30M or so before all is said and done. That’s a strong result for the first major collaboration between Fey and Poehler since 2008’s Baby Mama, a film that now is somewhat infamous for not finding the humor of their television outings. Making the transition from TV to movies is never easy, but this solid counterprogramming approach has seemed to have paid off rather well.
Concussion opened to a solid $11M this weekend. The $35M drama seemed like it could’ve been easily ignored on another weekend, yet was able to find small success with solid marketing and good reviews. Will Smith is not quite the draw he used to be, with some of his recent releases such as Focus and After Earth finding little success. Sports dramas are always a bit of a hard sell, and something that blatantly goes against one of the most popular corporations in America was a bold move. Word of mouth, as usual for a sports drama, was very strong. It received an A cinemascore, which means it should be able to have strong holds for the next few weeks.
The only flop this weekend was the $120M Point Break remake, which bombed in $10.2M in its opening weekend. Interest was obviously very low, as a remake of the 1980’s cult classic never really seemed to be in high demand, and the trailers did little to remove that stigma. It also seemed odd for a Christmas release, as it seems more appropriate for January or February, rather than one of the biggest weekends of the year. Perhaps it may have done a bit better on another weekend, but not enough to turn a profit with its surprisingly large budget.
After two strong weeks in limited release, The Big Short managed to bucked the trend of limited releases finding limited success in wide release with a strong $10M weekend from just around 1,500 theaters. Originally, it seemed as though something so political and satirical would be a hard sell at Christmas time, which usually sees releases more akin to Joy or Concussion, but it’s clear from this debut that there is intense interest in the film, likely the result of many being victims of the events portrayed in the film. At a 4:45 screening I attended on Saturday, there were all of 5 seats left, and the 1:30 screening was completely sold out. If Paramount is smart, they will capitalize on its strong word of mouth and interest and expand the film over the next few weeks during awards season. If they pull this off, they could see some seriously strong results.
The Hateful Eight opened in a 100 theater 70mm roadshow, and grossed $4.5M over the weekend, giving it a per theater average of around $45K. However, that came exclusively from 70mm showings, which cost more than average tickets. Considering the amount of competition it had, and that’s a 3 hour film that primarily takes place in one room, this is a pretty great start. It was expected to do around $3-$3.5M, but it’s higher start is a testament to Tarantino’s loyal fanbase. The film goes wide on Thursday the 31st, and should be able to find success in both of these markets.
The biggest release in the limited market, however, had to be the highly anticipated The Revenant. After the huge success of Birdman, it seemed natural that it would see an excellent per theater average. At four theaters, it averaged a fantastic $117.5K per theater.
More from Bombs and Blockbusters
Weekend Report: ‘Star Wars’ is the Chosen One
Bombs and Blockbusters Special Forecast: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’